I like a good sleeper. If you ask Google what a sleeper car is, you’ll get an answer involving disguised potential or unassuming performance. The new Hyundai Tucson N-Line is the exact opposite of a sleeper, although that doesn’t mean I dislike it…
Hyundai Automotive’s southern African representatives are among my favourite motoring peeps, not just because they invite NamWheels to all their no-frills product launches, but because they pay very close attention to the market. And, whenever possible, with a superb dedication towards dealer needs and customer desires.
A casual lunchtime chat with one of their head-honchos revealed that he not only keeps tabs on Namibian sales, but also has a great understanding of what their competitors are up to. And while Hyundai S.A. are currently testing two fully electric Ioniq models (twice World Car of the Year winners), he dismisses their entry to southern Africa due to excessive prices and lacking infrastructure.
The Ioniq’s performance potential qualifies as a sleeper (the design doesn’t) but our markets crave the opposite: regular cars dressed up in performance-brand robes. Think AMG-Line or M-Sport, a cosmetic package which can adorn anything from a small diesel hatchback to a medium-weight SUV battle cruiser. But crucially, doesn’t come with added power.
Is that a bad thing? Hyundai reminds us that buyers look for affordable, efficient and versatile transport… often because the proper high-performance models are financially out of reach, difficult to live with and, eventually, expensive to maintain. And so, in a move already pioneered by the local ground crew, Hyundai Automotive just launched this Tucson N-Line.
Its forebears are the i20 N Sport (mildly tweaked) and current i20 N-Line (also just cosmetic), plus previous Tucson Sport. That visually beefed-up crossover came with a feisty 1.6L turbo-petrol engine which loved breaking traction and putting alarming dents in the average fuel consumption. Which is why this new (NX4) version is based on the all-wheel drive turbo-diesel model.
Where Hyundai S.A. would bolt everything onto the foregoing models themselves, this Tucson comes with its go-faster trim straight from the factory. For now, only the top model (2.0D Elite AWD) is available with this option, although we wouldn’t be surprised if it eventually trickles down to the lesser 2L petrol Executive and Elite derivatives.
What does the (R50,000 extra) N-Line kit include?
- N-Line exclusive 19-inch alloy wheels
- Redesigned front bumper with large silver trim
- Black radiator grill and black exterior mirror caps
- Blacked-out window and C-pillar trim
- Colour-coded wheel arch trim and side skirts
- Redesigned and colour-coded rear bumper with larger silver diffuser element
- Twin chrome exhaust tips
- Exclusive leather and suede seats with N-Line badges
- Red cabin highlights, multiple N logos and silver pedals
- Power tailgate and mood lighting
These are over-and-above the generous specifications of an Elite model which include plenty of automatic gadgets, loads of keyless goodies, multiple passive driver aids, reverse camera, many airbags, lane and rear cross-traffic assist, radar guided cruise control, wireless charger, LED headlights and an 8-inch infotainment screen with all popular media inputs.
Although the press launch took place during one of the Western Cape’s torrential storms, I can confirm that all these sporty additions suit this handsome new Tucson very well. The previous zeff model (of which we spotted a white one in the parking lot) seems a tad overdressed by comparison, where this fresh N-Line looks more cohesive. Bar the wheels, according to some observers.
Driving this newbie feels pretty similar to the regular 2.0D Elite version, with the only noticeable difference being a slight reduction in ride comfort due to thinner tyre sidewalls. Chatting of which, we even exposed the press fleet to some rocky and muddy dirt roads, where one vehicle unfortunately damaged a wheel on a large stone. To be fair, that could happen to any sporty SUV.
The 137kW and 416Nm engine and 8-speed automatic gearbox shine with the smooth and linear power delivery we’ve come to expect from modern cars of this ilk, although I noticed a tendency to hunt for gears on undulating country roads if the transmission has just settled into its top ratio. Full power antics were sufficiently pleasant, even for our brand-new test mule with just three-figure mileage.
Hyundai claims average diesel consumption of 7.4L/100km from the 54L fuel tank but, unbelievably, we returned our Crimson Red Tucson N-Line with just 6.7 showing on its comprehensive trip computer. Other figures you may want to know are 181mm of ground clearance, 169g CO2/km, 11.8m turning radius, 750kg towing capacity and a 540L boot; extendable to 1860L with the rear seats folded down.
More positive notes include excellent front seat comfort (with heating or ventilation) as well as top-drawer luxury items like a heated steering wheel, dual-zone climate control, three distinct drive modes with a “smart” automatic setting and corresponding graphics in the fully digital gauge cluster. A personal gripe is that your chosen wiper mode temporarily blanks out the tachometer.
Plus, you only have a choice of four colours. I’m sorry, that’s probably nit-picking. As the N-Line spec is only available on the big all-wheel drive Tucson, you also get pre-set terrain modes: Snow, Mud or Sand, to assist the intelligent traction system in distributing power between the front and rear wheels. The car did a sterling job of traversing muddy roads, even when left in its default setting.
The Hyundai Tucson 2.0D Elite AWD is such an amazing vehicle that we chose it as one of our #NamWheels #CaroftheYear finalists for 2022, and although it didn’t win this competition, I’m delighted to see that Hyundai of southern Africa listened to their customers by adding some extra visual punch to this model.
It’s also the polar opposite of my beloved sleeper vehicles, but I’m happy to report that it is exactly what the market has been asking for; tastefully executed at a highly competitive price. And just to seal that deal, each new Tucson N-Line is shipped with a 7-year / 200,000km warranty and 6-year / 90,000km service plan.
[ May 2023 ]
- Tucson 2.0 Premium A/T – R561,900
- Tucson 2.0 Executive A/T – R613,900
- Tucson 2.0 Elite A/T – R683,900
- Tucson R2.0 Elite Diesel A/T – R749,900
- Tucson R2.0 N Line Diesel AWD A/T – R799,900